Today, after a few weeks of not being able to drive thanks to a broken foot, I finally was able to visit my favourite beach, Southerndown. We didn’t stay for long, my hopes of a long coastal walk thwarted by the 8 year old’s insistence that he had to put his foot into the very cold sea, but I loved the brief time we spent sat watching the waves rushing in and out to the shore.

It called to mind a time long ago, what I think was my first real moment of spiritual connection.

Hormonal holiday from hell

In the summer of 1996, I was half way through a much longed for (by me at least) pregnancy. I was struggling to stop smoking and drinking, and not doing very well at either. I had managed to stop drinking, and didn’t smoke cigarettes, but was still partial to a bit of marijuana. My boyfriend and I had decided to take a holiday, so using my father’s transit van as a camper van, we spent a week travelling around West Wales.

It was awful. I was hormonal. He took everything my hormones and I did and said personally. And my hormones interpreted everything he did and said wrong. Cooped up together with no where to escape to, we argued a lot.

One day we had a particularly bad fight, and I marched off, determined i was going to end the relationship and leave him there (not sure how I was going to do that, as I couldn’t drive, but that didn’t matter at the time!)

I walked down to the sea front and walked past a couple of pubs full of holidaymakers having, it seemed, a wonderful time. My whole being ached to be able to go in and have a few drinks, but the baby in my womb reminded me not to. Instead I carried on walking, and sat on a wall, watching the foam on the waves as they drifted in and out.

Soothed by the waves

As I sat, I became transfixed by the sight and sound of the waves. I felt my whole body relax completely. The sea seemed to be speaking to me and soothing my anxious mind. I remember thinking “None of this matters one little bit. Nothing we say or do matters, that sea is just going to keep doing what it does and it doesn’t care about stupid things like (whatever we were arguing about”.

This realisation of the infinite nature of the sea, and the earth, and the very finite nature of us humans, seemed to calm me down completely. I returned to my boyfriend, and we made up, and the rest of the holiday passed far more peacefully.

I now think that I probably brought my breath into sync with the waves, as I often notice I do this when I am at the coast now. If I am right, then the slowing of my breath would have calmed and soothed my frazzled nervous system, and brought me to a state of much greater relaxation.

First deep connection

I have often looked back at this moment in my life and seen that it was, without a doubt, the first time I truly experienced a spiritual moment. I didn’t recognise it as that at the time, but that is what it was. That realisation that we are just a small part of something huge, and being soothed by that, is, to me, what faith is. I have never found a religion that I feel comfortable following (yet), but I definitely feel that connection.

I found it when I sat on that sea front. It is present in my love for my children. I discovered it when I learned to enjoy walking and being in nature. I found it on my yoga mat when I learned to breathe and go deeper into myself.

Every time I do something that reminds me that I am alive, and that I am mortal, I know I am connected to every other being on this planet that exists now, has existed, and will exist. And together, we are part of something amazing. It has many names and it needs none.

Where do you feel most connected to that bigger thing that reminds you that you are alive and not alone?

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Esther Nagle
Teacher, writer, speaker at Balance and Breathe
Esther is a former alcoholic, smoker and all round stressed out mess. She found the path to health, happiness, freedom and joy through Yoga. She is a passionate advocate for the power of Yoga, and time in Nature, in bringing balance to life, and giving you control over your health, happiness and wellbeing.

Esther is a powerful public speaker, writer and author. Her first book, Bent Back into Shape, Beating Addiction Through Yoga, has gained many 5 star reviews and has helped many people along their recovery journey.

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